By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja said his administration had paid billions of dollars to pensioners since he came to power in 2015.
Consequently, he said such move had put paid to the anguish of senior citizens.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, said the president made the remarks when he received a delegation of Nigeria Union of Pensioners led by its acting president, Comrade Musa Ayuba Dallatu, in the State House
According to the statement, the president said under his watch, the
Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) completed full payment of N5.8 billion to police retirees in August 2018 while in November 2018, N13.7 billion was paid to parastatal retirees and another N18 billion paid to civil service Pensioners.
It also said the Directorate which supervised the payment of pension arrears to over 50,000 verified civil service pensioners, also oversaw the payment of N917.6 million to 432 war retirees.
Adesina quoted the president as saying, “These few examples testify to the Government’s positive impact on pensioners’ lives. In addition, we achieved huge savings in budgetary provisions through the elimination of ghost and duplicated details.
‘‘We have restored qualified pensioners arbitrarily removed from the payroll, thus bringing succour and hope to senior citizens, thereby improving the confidence of the entire county in the Government and its policies,’’ he said.
He also said the president noted that his administration had put paid to the dehumanisation of federal pensioners by ensuring that they were paid their entitlements and backlog of arrears as and when due.
The president’s spokesman added that the president observed that the welfare of pensioners remained one of the priorities of his administration since May 2015.
Furthermore, he said Buhari noted that the retirees deserve timely payment of their emoluments, recognition, and respect for their work as well as dedication to the country during their active working years.
‘‘In recent times pensioners were ignored, neglected and even persecuted. We have put a stop to that. As you yourselves have confirmed today, we have begun regular payment of monthly pensions and payment of backlog of arrears.
‘‘The Federal Government released N45 billion accrued rights for the contributory pension scheme and N22.4 billion to start payment of ex-Nigeria Airways pensioners,’’ Buhari was further quoted.
According to the statement, Buhari told the pensioners that the federal government also bailed out states to address salary and pension arrears including Paris Club refunds, disclosing that he had authorised schemes for the restoration of Niger Delta Steel Company pensioners, NITEL/MTEL pensioners and Biafran Police war veterans pensioners.
It stated further that the president reviewed the actions taken so far by the administration in connection with the pension industry, saying PTAD had saved N4.9 trillion per annum as a result of payroll clean-up under the civil service verification exercise.
However, Adesina said in response to the retirees’ request for the implementation of the National Policy on Pension Parity and the National Policy on Social Security on Health and Other Related Matters of the Elderly, the president promised to do all within his powers to address them, but subject to availability of funds.
According to him, the leader of the delegation, Dalhatu, also sought the president’s intervention on five percent counterpart funding for the payment of local government pensioners and retired primary school teachers which he said was arbitrarily stopped in 2010.
The statement added, “Comrade Dallatu appealed for the payment of outstanding pension arrears, gratuities and death benefits that have accrued over the years, among others.
“Commending Buhari on the regular payment of pensions, Dallatu said: ‘we are bold to say without fear or favour that you have made our lives better than you met it in so many areas, which among others include regular payment of monthly pensions.’”
Adesina also quoted Dalhatu saying, ‘‘It is an incontestable fact that since the advent of this government under your able leadership, payment of monthly pensions has been more regular than ever. In fact, if the truth must be told, Mr President Sir, we have never had it so good.’’